You Get to Choose Love
Romans 14 paints a picture of what it means that love is a choice. There is so much freedom in that truth because it means that we are not bound to judgement, bitterness, or hatred of others; instead, love as a choice implies that, because we have the spirit of God, we are free to choose whether we walk in love!
Drawing People to Jesus
In this specific passage, Paul is addressing Christians who freely ate food offered to idols because they understood that idols were not real, but the newer Christians were confused because they were trying to move away from idols and focus only on God. Thus, Paul is challenging the Roman Christians here to not take any pride in their new found freedom in Christ; instead, they were called to lay down anything that would cause their fellow believers to stumble.
Note that Paul says, “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister” - what does that mean? What I believe that Paul is encouraging us to do is to honestly examine all of our ways and to ask God to show up what things we do out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit” instead of love for God and people. Once I learned this concept that often times, our motivation matters more than our actions, my life began to radically change. I took the filter of “am I putting a stumbling block in anyone’s way” and began to examine each area of my life; what I began to realize was that there were many things I used to do that did not get in the way of my relationship with God, but it often caused other people to question who I really worshiped with my life. My thoughts at first were more along the lines of, “well, that is not my responsibility to make sure that they know that God does not condemn them for these things”, but after asking God to teach me, I began to realize that God calls us to submit to one another out of love. What this means is that, as a child of God, I am called to do whatever it takes to get others closer to God… not leave people behind in the dust while I skip ahead in my freedom. God asked me to leave things behind that made people question so that I could instead help walk them closer to God. Then, once they understood more that there was “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”, they would be ready to believe that God was not basing His love for them off of a rule book!
Invites Others Into Freedom
The way that Paul ends this passage perfectly sums up his main point. He says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval”. What Paul is trying to convince his audience of is that our actions cannot save or condemn us and that God cares more about the state of our heart than what we choose to do.
So be free today, but consider how you can bring others into that freedom with you. In that ministry, there is true joy.
- Bailey Meyne